Ever since I’ve known my husband he has collected Hallmark Christmas decorations – not just any Hallmark Christmas decorations – guy Hallmark Christmas decorations. Emmitt Smith, Ken Grifie Junior, Troy Aikman, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Captain Jack Sparrow, GI Joe in space and GI Joe solider – he’s got them all. My husband is a hoarder –I mean collector and for years all of his collectible Hallmark Christmas decorations were neatly packed away in a bin hidden in the garage. No one was allowed to touch them never mind decorate a tree with his prized collection. “The kids will break my decorations” he said. I don’t think he’s ever read Erma Bombeck’s list of regrets after she found out she was dying of cancer. All of my decorations go up every year and no one seems to care if they get messed up or broken and that’s ok because I don’t care – beautiful things are meant to be enjoyed and shared. Not sure if I can call his taste in Christmas decorations beautiful but nevertheless, his decorations are beautiful to him – beautiful enough to hide in a garage away from the kids for the last fourteen years. Every year I put up two trees -the tree in the living room is decorated with all of the Christmas decorations that my friends and family have given me over the years (my traditional tree) and then the other tree in the family room is decorated with a blue and silver theme. After I put up the two trees and wrapped the trees in lights and garland, my husband walks in with his box of his precious collection and ask me “what tree he can hang his decorations on?” After fourteen years of his decorations in a box, I’m thinking they can stay in the garage – but the Christmas Spirit in me gave him the tree in the family room that is usually a beautiful blue and silver theme. He happily goes over to his tree and starts to hang his Hallmark decorations while the boys and I decorate the living room tree. After fourteen years of knowing about their father’s almighty collection, they couldn’t stand to be in the living room with me while the “sport tree” was being decorated in the other room. Competition, let me tell you, between the traditional family/friend tree and the sport tree – you guessed it, the sport tree won. Both boys left me to decorate the big tree and they made their way to the family room to join their father and decorate the sport tree. If you double click on the collage you will get a close up view of the two trees – my tree has a star on top and his tree has – yep that’s right – a football helmet! As I always say – beauty is in the eyes of the beholder…Below Erma Bombeck’s list of regrets – I’m posting this for my husband – I have Erma’s poem posted in my office at work to remind myself everyday how precious life is..
IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER – by Erma Bombeck (written after she found out she was dying from cancer).
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth. I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, ‘Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.’ There would have been more ‘I love you’s’ More ‘I’m sorry’s.’
But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it .. live it and never give it back. STOP SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF!!!
Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what Instead, let’s cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us.
If you follow this blog, I’m sure you have figured out I’m not the best DIY person – I don’t really have the patience or the time for crafts. Give me a computer and a camera and I can DIY all day long. I’m assuming that most bloggers have heard of Monkey-Pic the free photo editor. If you want to get some of Monkey-Pic’s cool features you have to pay – you do get a lot for free but I love using all of the features so I signed on for the year – think it cost me $30.00 for an entire year. So here it goes – my first DIY post. Usually every year I order photo cards from Costco – it can get expensive by the time you get cards and then send the cards in the mail. With Monkey-Pic you can create your own cards for a fraction of the price. I created personal Christmas cards and I decided to do 5 x 7 card – with Monkey-Pic you can choose 4 x 6, 5 x 7, 8 x 10 -heck you can even create a facebook cover. I also created Christmas cards for my work. I work at a Catholic High School so I created a card with a Religious theme – I’m not going to share the cards I created this year because I will be sending them out in the next few days and I know some of my family reads my blog – like my brother and I don’t want to show him my cool cards before they arrive in the mail! To start out – go to www.picmonkey.com and you will be greeted with:
To create your Christmas card you need to create a collage first -go to create a collage and from there you can pick the layout you want – keep in mind whether your card is going to be portrait or landscape.
Using the various buttons down the left hand side – you can add coloured frames and different patterns – I’ve created a very simple style but you can do so much more – experiment. Once you have created the collage you want – save it to your computer.
Go back to the start menu of pic-monkey and select design. From here you can pick your layout – 4 x 6, 5 x 7. I f you pick 4 x 6 it is very cost-effective – you don’t need special envelopes and the pictures are anywhere from .10 – .14 cents a piece.
Once you pick your layout – go to editor to rotate your canvas to portrait or landscape. From here pick your canvas colour – I picked a plain colour and then use the overlay section for more design.
From here I went to the butterfly item in the left hand menu and used my own overlay by picking the collage I saved.
On the left editor menu – now go to NEW and select Santa Land or winterland – both have cool features to help create beautiful cards – I chose Santa Land. From there you can add holiday cutouts to create some different layouts for a more polished looking card. Using the different text items you can now add your personal message… Once you create the card you want – save to your computer. It is recommended that you save in jpg format as this is the format that will work at Costco or Walmart – go on-line to your preferred store to order your pictures and voila you will have beautiful picture cards ready the very next day.
The original card I created for work was a little nicer than the one I created below – but you get the drift – cards for all occasions and easy on the pocket book..
This may be my first and last DIY post – so I hope you enjoy. If you’ve never created your own cards, you’re missing out on some creative fun!
I can’t think of anything I enjoy more than to sit down with a good book and get completely lost in the characters. Once after reading a really good book, I confessed to a friend that I was mourning the characters and wondering if I would meet them again. My friend stopped, touched my arm and in a voice full of concern said to me “but they are not real!” My friend is also a brilliant scientist with many degrees and she’s never read a fiction book, her nose is always buried in science journals. I said to her “you must pick up a fiction book and let yourself get taken away.” On the home front I have books all over the house, I love the look and smell of books. Both my husband and I read as much as we can, proving difficult sometimes when we are running here and there. I always bring a book to my children’s hockey practice and sit in a cold rink and read for an hour. My youngest son told me that I wasn’t a hockey mom, I was a bookworm mom- like it’s a bad thing. My oldest son reads all the time and it’s never been a problem peaking his interest at the library. It’s a little more work to peak my youngest son’s interest – sports, more sports and he’s not interested in sitting for any length of time to read. However, when he discovered “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” he would sit down with the book and not move until he read it from front to back. To accommodate family reading, I created two reading corners in the house. Not having a lot of money to buy fancy things I put it all together from thrift stores, Ikea, a moving sale and I even found a floor lamp in my neighbour’s garbage. I have a little pride so I sent my son across the street to get it – nothing wrong with it and free works for me. Both reading corners cost me $140.99 – if you count the .99 cent Pier import pillow I picked up from the Salvation Army still showing the original price tag of $44.95. I hope these pictures inspire you to create your own corner, everyone needs their own space to sit and dive into ancient worlds, romantic worlds, detective worlds, world of vampires and werewolves or a wimpy kid’s world.
The two brown chairs cost me $15.00 each, the little table in-between I found in my garage, the two little coffee tables were $5.00 each at Ikea. The word “Love” is written in many different languages on the tables – can’t argue with that. I adore the added touch of Elvis on my $5.00 table – makes it priceless. The Chaise Lounge in the living room cost me $100.00. I bought it from my friend’s sister who is downsizing. I’ve always wanted a chaise lounge but did not want to fork out the money. The real meaning of thrifting is patience. The flowered pillow shown on the chaise lounge is a thrifted .99 cent Pier One Import pillow. The Sweet Peas are free from my garden. The real value of my $140.99 is shown in the last picture – my youngest son sitting in the chaise lounge reading. He’s usually allergic to reading but he loves that corner!
I had an old bench sitting in the back yard that I bought a few years ago. I bought it off some guy on the side of the highway at a country garage sale. He made the benches out of salvaged wood that he took from torn down cabins. He really did a beautiful job and I loved the bench. I left it out in the elements too long and the bench fell apart. Last week I decided to take it apart and paint it all yellow and put it back together. Now if you’re thinking smart and crafty girl – think again. I took it apart quite easily, it literally fell apart as my son and I moved it from the back yard to the front yard. Painting it was no problem once I tore it apart, putting it back together was another story. This is where my husband comes in, he was only too happy to take on the job( if you detect sarcasm you are absolutely correct). My lovely husband put it all back together for me and I have it sitting under the canopy of a beautiful Red Chinese Maple tree amongst the backdrop of glistening yellow Black Eyed Susan flowers and I must say it looks stunning. However, if you come by my house and the yellow bench under the red canopy intrigues you to sit and ponder, I guarantee you will end up on your ass as the bench got a little too weathered while exposed to the elements and most likely will come apart very easily. My husband has more talent than he likes to let on.
Finally, the last few days we’ve had deck weather. Weather so beautiful, we can sit in our outdoor room that I created. Love our front deck and while thrifting this past January, I found the perfect four piece furniture set to make the outside space a true paradise. We sit out there with our morning coffee, our afternoon tea and sip our after dinner drinks watching the boys play roller hockey well into the evening with the added touch of the glowing candle lighting from the lanterns. Summer – I can hardly wait until the boys finish their Spring hockey so I can really have lazy weekends on the front deck.. No don’t say it, I know you’re thinking it, by the time I can laze around it will be raining – bad thought – go away. Below is a collage of our front room – everything you see I thrifted – from the plaques on the wall – $2.50 each at Salvation Army, picture frame – 10 cents at Salvation Army. Tray and white planter on coffee table – $3.00 at Salvation Army. Green couch, chairs and coffee table(beautiful wicker set) – $480.00 at Bibles for Missions, outside lanterns – $2.50 a piece on sale at winners(not thrifted but a thrifted price), unique round plant stand – $5.00 – garage sale, everything you see on the unique round plant stand – garage sale – all $1.00 – $2.00. Picture behind the couch(looking for the right hook to hang it up)$5.00 – Value Village, Curtains( 5 panels – covers whole deck) Cheap material shower curtains(won’t rot in the rain) $9.00 per panel – used seven panels to make the curtains just under $65.00. All in all, I spent just over $570.00 and the biggest expense was $480.00 for the outdoor furniture. Living on the cheap and loving it. Double click on the picture below for a better view.
Now if you got here thinking you would see naked old men, I’m sorry to have disappointed you. Vintage balls as in Vintage Christmas balls. I saw in “Life as a thrifter” an interesting idea what you could do with Vintage Christmas decorations and I was thrilled to realize that I had already come up with my own unique idea using everything I had in the house. I really did – Life a s thrifter did not inspire me, I came up with this idea all by myself. I have a little vintage corner as you see below:
A few vintage items mixed in with a new modern Ikea lamp sitting on top of a vintage sewing machine. I decided to hang a few vintage balls, my mom used on our Christmas tree when I was a child, on an un-used jewellery stand I had hanging around my room. I think it looks pretty good – I didn’t have to spray paint anything just hung the balls! Mind you, I do like the silver colour “Life as a thrifter” chose for her project…mmmm.. .. Maybe next year…Enjoy….
We are Halloween people and usually we start our Halloween preparations at least a week or more before the big event. This year we’ve been so busy it was tempting to just carve a single pumpkin and buy candies – c’est tout! We just can’t do it! We even tried to put out just a few things – can’t do that either. Wednesday is Halloween and we’re just getting everything up tonight only to be taken down in a couple of days. In the midst of all the preparations, my oldest decides to make chocolate chip cookies for the gang that’s coming over Halloween night. I’m thinking there will be enough candy and chocolate bars to last us until next year! He insisted and rather than complain about the mess – I said go for it! Tomorrow I’ve got one big pot of chilli to cook and a house to clean. I can leave the dust because dust and Halloween go together. Lots of work but look at those smiles, makes it all worth it…Wishing everyone has a safe and fun Halloween..
I enjoy thrifting but have to admit that it’s hard for me to see beyond what I’m seeing. There are people out there who can look at a piece of junk furniture or an item like a sheet and design something fabulous. Not me – the sheet stays the sheet and the junk furniture stays the junk furniture. But I admire people who possess the kind of talent that can create something from nothing. I follow a blog called “Life as a thrifter” and this lady does some pretty amazing things with junk or forgotten items. When the boys were young, like all children, they loved to hide and pretend they were away at a camp or in a fort. I remember using an old sheet and moving a table to the middle of the room and draping the sheet over the table so the boys could create a fort under the table. Kept them busy for hours, they played lego under the table, they read books under the table and they also made the fort home base for hide and seek. Now I thought I was pretty imaginative but take a look what “life as a thrifter” did with a sheet to make a fort – can’t believe I never thought of this one because the damn sheet would never stay on the table and being me I duct taped the sheet to stay in place, which only lasted so long! All pictures are from life as a thrifter as I don’t possess the kind of talent to take these pictures!
“Life as a thrifter” check it out. My boys are too old now for this amazing fort but for those of you who still have young children what a treat…
In the post “Bye, Bye, Great Pumpkin” I talked about getting rid of our orange family room. I hired a painter and re-painted the room a calm and soothing grey. Took me a while to put the room back together because once I removed everything from the room, I didn’t want to put it all back. Several years ago my husband won this big picture of Bobby Orr. It is a nice picture but how do you decorate around Bobby Orr. Now, now ladies if you’re saying get rid of Bobby Orr you have to remember that it’s not all about us. Our hubbies have decorating preferences too – even if you don’t agree with your man’s taste he does have preferences. My husband loves his Bobby Orr picture, so being a hockey family we decided to put the picture in our family room. One night while looking through blogs, I came across Micheline’s blog and really liked her art work. Why I don’t know, I e-mailed Micheline to ask her if she would consider painting a hockey picture of my children. I sent the above picture of the boys, but I wasn’t really sure what I wanted or expected. Micheline politely said “thank you, but no thanks.” Part of her reluctance was she thought I wanted a portrait and I assured her I wanted something abstract. The painting took about two months as she had other commission work to complete. I had no idea what artistic brilliance Micheline would come up with and other than telling her what number jerseys the boys wear, and a few other tidbits of information, I left the professional part of painting up to the expert. I guess you can say that this project was a leap of faith for both artist and client. Glad to say we are both happy with the results. I love the picture and Micheline took on something out of her comfort zone. Thanks Micheline for helping me complete my decorating project, the picture looks awesome in our family room and compliments Bobby! Below is the awesome pic Micheline came up with – I love it -hubbie is still warming up to it!
Now that we’re home from our skiing trip, the weekend is full of hockey. Last weekend of hockey for the season and then lacrosse starts. Both the boys are in tournaments and the tournaments are in opposite ends of the city, so my hubbie goes one way and I go the other. The rink that I took my son to this morning is a small rink in a small town. I’ve been there at least a dozen times but I never noticed the little Salvation Army all tucked in behind bushes on the corner right by the arena. Caught my eye this morning on the way home from the game, slammed on my brakes and went roaring into the parking lot – much to the joys of the driver behind me. For that matter my son too – “mom are you crazy, what are you doing?” “I can’t believe I never noticed this Salvation Army here!” “Oh great” my son groans “we’re gonna be here forever.” “Nope not forever but we have several hours between games, perfect.” So above you can see the beautiful yellow shirt, caught my eye because the weather is starting to co-operate and it looks like we might get some Spring and I need some colour back in my wardrobe – for $3.00 I’ll take all the yellow… The plaid shirt, I just love plaid shirts together with a pair of comfy jeans to hang about – take a look at the detail in the back fleu -de lis, sequins and all. Love it and for $3.00 love it even more…
I love canvas bags you can wear criss-cross over your shoulder – don’t have one – want one – found one today – $2.50…why pay more?
Last but not least – I have this old arborite table from the 60’s that I scored from my mother-in-law’s basement of goodies. I knew I was on to a good thing when I saw the exact same table featured as good design in “Style at Home” magazine. I paired mine with some funky Ikea chairs and because the table is small I moved it to the middle of my family room- kitchen. It looks great, but the problem is the area where the table is situated is not meant to for a table as there is no light in the ceiling. I’ve got a floor lamp nearby to give some light, but I came up with the idea to get a battery operated little lamp as I can’t have an electrical plug running across the table. Could not find one – found one today – $2.50 and it’s the cutest thing – love it – don’t think I’ll ever shop like a normal person again – then again maybe I’m shopping like a normal person and everyone else is not!
Table was free – benefit of having a mother-in-law who keeps everything and gladly gave it to me. I have seen this table or close to it for as much as $200.00 – $300.00 in antique stores. I’ve got a few other antiques around the house as well – another post – another time. Wishing everyone happy thrifting!
A little while back I found a quote on studiolightblue – “Let me ask you something, what is not art?” Love that quote because it says it all. You just have to have a love for beauty to admire art and everyone knows that beauty is in the eye of the beholder! I love art and I know what I like, but I don’t have money to invest nor the knowledge to have an expert opinion. I do have a few good framed prints but my favourite framed art is my children’s’ art:
If you click on the cross to take a closer look, you will see that the whole cross, including Jesus, is made out of clothes pegs! The innocence in children’s art can’t be bought. Beside showing off your children’s art, framing your child’s art is truly debt free decorating. I also love photos and enjoy having photos of my family around. Pictures from my grandparents’ day up to pictures of my parenting days! I like to surround myself with happy reminders and what better way to do that than frame photos. I created the space below on a small wall – picked six of my all time favourite pictures:
I also created a wall of old timers, a group of pictures showing past generations. I like to show my children that a time existed before they were even thought of, for that matter before my husband and I were thought of!
Finally, before I got married I mentioned to a friend that I really liked Caillebotte’s “The Floor Planers” (Les raboteurs de parquet). For a wedding gift she bought the print and had it framed. I loved the gift, so personal and I hold the gesture close to my heart. Something about men without shirts on working – no, no, it’s the brush strokes and detail! Seriously, I think my fondness for this picture is because Caillebotte had the nerve to show workers – something artists would not do during his time as this was not considered good taste. Caillebotte’s floor planers shocked or rather rocked the socialites of the day – they called it “vulgar subject matter.” Good for you Gustave!
Here’s the thing, according to the various home design magazines my house is poorly decorated. During the week, very little is in its place, laundry sits on a table in the family room until I have time to put it away, my children leave a trail of their shoes, jackets, roller blades, helmets and general sports gear leading from the front door to the family room. You might find dishes in the sink, clean dishes not put away, never-the-less not magazine perfect. All of my furniture is either hand-me-downs, antiques (not even mine – belong to my mother-in-law) and thrift store deals. The odd time I’ve found some energy and repainted a table or two, it’s a rare occasion, furniture usually comes as is in my house.
I don’t get Martha Stewart’s magazine but I do get Canadian Style At Home magazine, a Christmas gift from a good friend, orders a subscription for me every year. I really like the magazine but there was a time my husband would cringe when he saw the magazine in the pile of mail. He would see me flipping through the beautiful pages and sure enough I would start not being as happy with my surroundings, I’d want this change, this needs to be painted, I really want the old kitchen out and a new Ikea kitchen in and then try to figure out how we could afford it all. When reality set in that I couldn’t afford it, I’d go about my business as usual until the next month and then I would start my rant all over again. There have been times when the magazine inspired me to do good things but mostly I would focus on the things I didn’t have rather than be thankful for what I did have. Somewhere along the line it all changed and I think I know precisely the time the change occurred. I’ve written about the time with my mother while she was sick with Alzheimer’s in Connections, it was during this time and her death that the changes in me took place. My mother was always incredibly fussy about her house, she cleaned like a mad woman. When I was a teenager she worked full-time and cleaned all weekend. She would be really bitchy if things weren’t in order and weekends could just be a drag. One of the first things I noticed wrong with my mother, before Alzheimer’s was diagnosed, was that she stopped doing housework and didn’t seem to care about cleaning at all. As we realized her condition and we were living in the same city, I would split my time between cleaning my place and running over to her apartment to clean her place as well. In between all that my husband was working midnight shift, I was working day shift, and juggling the boys. Phew – stopped breathing just thinking about how stressful those days were. The point to all of this is that my mom was so particular about her house now fast forward to her funeral and people talked about how kind-hearted she was, nice person she was and how funny she was, but not one person mentioned how clean or nice her house was! The thought struck me on the plane ride coming home from the funeral, I thought I’m worried that I might have a lot of housework, who cares. From that day forward I’ve been different, it’s not like I let my house get out of control but I don’t feel the same pressing need to have everything perfect. It’s an exhausting thing being perfect, Martha Stewart must be unconscious from exhaustion. For me I try to get my boys and husband to do more to help me, but no more do I worry about everything being picked up every single minute, can’t do it. Hopefully, when I die my children will have so many fond memories and I hope they forget my perfect always tense stage and remember all the smiles and laughs we had.
It’s done – I’ve sent the great big pumpkin room to a room in the great big sky! Gone forever, although I have to appreciate that the great big pumpkin served it’s purpose for my need of bright colour at that time of my life. I now want something soothing, relaxing a place where I can breathe – think I’m getting old. I posted So Inspired as I was inspired by the Schmitt house. Cara does deserve a medal though she did all the work herself. I was all set to paint the room and trying to figure out how I was going to fit it in to my already busy weekend schedule and then my girlfriend told me she hired a painter. Got the painter in to give me a quote and hired him on the spot. I’m not use to hiring someone for something I can do, but have to say it was worth every penny – done in one day! Would of taken me two weeks! Here are the results – I’m still trying to get the room back together:
Pumpkin – gone, gone!
Still trying to figure out what pictures to bring back -has to be the right one!
Gone is the lego battleship!
Not Better Home and Gardens but it works for my family. My son’s artwork framed – can’t get much cheaper than that!
Bought this baby at Salvation Army for $24.00 – painting it white – I’ll show results when it’s finished! Good productive weekend at this house!